Brisbane residents will have access to urgent COVID-19 testing even when asymptomatic as fears grow over a cluster in the city.
Queensland has confirmed 10 cases of the highly infectious UK COVID-19 strain, four locally acquired, plunging Greater Brisbane into a snap three-day lockdown.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has revealed asymptomatic testing had been authorised in a bid to contain the outbreak.
“That means that people can be tested without symptoms across the Brisbane region,” he told reporters on Monday.
“That’s already under way through the GP respiratory clinics or the commonwealth respiratory and vax face clinics.”
Mr Hunt confirmed the testing was also authorised in aged care centres across the affected regions but said there was “no sign” the cluster had spread to aged care.
“We are taking early, pre-emptive action to ensure that those protections are in place,” he said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced Greater Brisbane would plunge into a three-day lockdown from 5pm on Monday, with residents only allowed to leave their homes for: food, exercise, essential work, and medical grounds.
Mr Hunt stressed vaccinations “add to the protections” and urged Brisbane’s residents to continue to become immunised.
“Vaccinations are considered a critical reason to leave home,” he said.
“If you are in the Brisbane area, please continue with your vaccination program subject to your practice being in a position to do so.
“We can only be fully protected once we are vaccinated but also once the world is vaccinated.”
Earlier, Ms Palaszczuk admitted she had not slept and was “very worried” over the growing cluster.
“I really need everyone to listen. If we all listen and co-operate we will be able to get through this together,” she said.
Queensland chief health officer Janette Young said the lockdown gave authorities a “critical” window to chase down close contacts.
“We now have significant community transmission and significant numbers of venues of concern all through Brisbane,” she told reporters on Monday.
Schools will shut from Tuesday, but children of essential workers will still be able to attend schools and daycare.